Is it possible that we have to be taught how to learn? The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that this is the case. Although we spend 12 of our first 18 years in school, I don’t think anyone really takes the time to instruct us in the fine art of learning. The most likely reason for this is that learning is highly specific to each person but that is not the message we get early on. A person’s ability to learn is affected by a number of factors including their inherent style of learning.
The more I think on this, the more convinced I become that what we view as “traditional” education is not addressing the needs of the students. This is not due to the people but more about the structure of the organization. So much has changed over the past 100 years but, fundamentally, schools have not. There have been some modifications but I think we need revolution and not evolution. This is why we see the rise of charter schools and virtual academies. Many of these also fail but that is the way complex adaptive systems test new ideas. There needs to continue to be failures as that is the only way we will ever come up with an idea that works.
Here are some things to consider when you begin to reflect on how to learn:
- You are in charge…not the “teacher” (you should not give up the responsibility to anyone else)
- Understand your own learning style (this can be done through numerous instruments like the MBTI or simply type in learning styles in your search and there will be a number of free offers)
- To paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, “What got us here, won’t get us there.” (we have to guard against thinking we have all of the skills to achieve our goals and essentially stop learning)
- Education is a means to an end, not an end in itself (while there is certainly nothing wrong with continuing to learn, there needs to be a goal in mind which is hopefully the betterment of society in some way, shape, or form
I maintain that learning is an art because it is highly specific to the individual in both the way we pursue it and the way we ultimately see it.